OVERNIGHT HEALTH: House votes to repeal healthcare reform law

Attention now turns to the Senate, where Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Trump asks Supreme Court to block Dem subpoena for financial records | Kudlow 'very optimistic' for new NAFTA deal | House passes Ex-Im Bank bill opposed by Trump, McConnell Top House Democrats ask for review of DHS appointments Warren promises gradual move toward 'Medicare for All' in first 100 days MORE (R-Ky.) has vowed to force his own repeal vote on the measure. He filed an amendment to the Small Business Jobs and Tax Relief Act on Wednesday that would do the job, though Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidThe Memo: Democrats confront prospect of long primary Bottom Line Lobbying world MORE (D-Nev.) has said he will block any such effort.

Funding fight looms: Wednesday’s vote was pure politics, and outright repeal would likely prove difficult even if Republicans do well in November. But the health law’s supporters are already eyeing a more potent threat — defunding. Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) said Wednesday that spending cuts could be a more potent weapon for Republicans next year than formally repealing the law’s policies. Starving the implementation effort or choking off funds to specific programs could weaken the Affordable Care Act without the mess of reconciliation or the heavy lift of putting together 60 votes in the Senate. Healthwatch has more on Daschle’s comments.

Why wait? Some conservative Republicans don’t want to wait until next year for a funding fight. Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Michele BachmannMichele Marie BachmannKlobuchar urges CNN town hall audience: 'That's when you guys are supposed to cheer, OK?' Michele Bachmann praises Trump: Americans will 'never see a more godly, biblical president' Will Biden lead a 'return to normalcy' in 2020? MORE (R-Minn.) are gathering signatures this week for a letter asking GOP leaders to defund the healthcare law this year. Roughly 80 of their colleagues have signed on so far.

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"We appreciate your willingness to schedule a vote on the full repeal of ObamaCare," the letter states. "We should continue efforts to repeal the law in its entirety this year, next year, and until we are successful. However, in the meantime, there is more we can do in Congress." Healthwatch has the story.

Passing the hat: Democrats hoped to raise campaign funds from the House GOP's second repeal vote, launching a new call for donations just hours before the vote was scheduled to take place. Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), who leads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, called the vote a "stunt" backed by the billionaire Koch brothers, who have bankrolled many conservative causes.

In response, the National Republican Congressional Committee launched a fundraising site called "Replace ObamaCare Dems," targeting 10 Democratic candidates. It seeks to raise funds for campaigns against Reps. Larry Kissell (N.C.), John BarrowJohn Jenkins BarrowRepublican wins Georgia secretary of state runoff to replace Kemp The most important runoff election is one you probably never heard of Our democracy can’t afford to cut legal aid services from the budget MORE (Ga.), John GaramendiJohn Raymond GaramendiThis week: Congress returns to chaotic Washington Trump labels Tlaib 'a despicable human being' Tlaib says Democrats have discussed detaining White House officials who don't testify MORE (Calif.), Jim MathesonJames (Jim) David MathesonTrump EPA eases standards for coal ash disposal Utah redistricting reform measure likely to qualify for ballot Trump's budget targets affordable, reliable power MORE (Utah), Mark Critz (Pa.), Ben Chandler (Ky.) and Nick RahallNick Joe RahallWe shouldn't allow politics to impede disaster relief Break the cycle of partisanship with infant, child health care programs Clinton mulls role in 2018 midterms MORE (D-W.Va.), as well as Christie Vilsack, running in Iowa, Carol Shea-Porter in New Hampshire and Dan Maffei in New York.

Poor reception: Mitt Romney was booed on Wednesday at the NAACP for vowing to repeal President Obama's signature healthcare law. He paused to acknowledge the audience, and then deviated from his prepared remarks to double down on his pledge to repeal the legislation.

“I say again, if our priority is jobs, and that’s my priority, that’s something I’d change,” Romney said, referring to a study indicating that the Affordable Care Act makes employers less likely to hire.

Obama carried the black vote in a landslide in 2008 and leads Romney 92 percent to 2 among black voters, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday. Read more from The Hill's coverage of the speech.

Sticks and stones: Pundits and lawyers were sharply critical of Solicitor General Donald Verrilli after oral arguments in the Supreme Court’s healthcare case; while he ended up winning the case, he apparently wasn’t too bothered by all the second-guessing. Verrilli said at a Heritage Foundation event Wednesday that his critics were simply exercising their right to free speech, and that tough questioning of government officials is simply part of the process. Healthwatch has his comments.

We’re with you: As Republican governors take a stand against implementing the healthcare law, Democrats are reiterating that they still stand with Obama. HHS released letters Wednesday from 12 Democratic governors who said they remain committed to setting up state-based insurance exchanges. Eleven of the 12 governors are from states that have already established their exchanges. Healthwatch has the details.


Thursday's agenda

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainDonald Trump's 2020 election economic gamble 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes The Memo: Democrats confront prospect of long primary MORE (R-Ariz.) and Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDemocratic senators introduce bill to push ICE to stop 'overuse' of solitary confinement Pentagon watchdog declines to investigate hold on Ukraine aid Schumer blocks drug pricing measure during Senate fight, seeking larger action MORE (D-Ill.) will follow up with a press conference. 


State by state

Gov. Dayton makes plans for Minnesota to implement healthcare law

Complaint filed against Iowa Gov. Branstad over health payments

New York refocuses crackdown on fake pot

Black lung cases climbing to epidemic levels among Kentucky-area miners, investigation shows

Calif. bill aims to crack down on illegal medical spas


Reading list

Obama administration readies for Medicaid opt-outs

Medicaid expansion could pay off for investors

Study: Medicaid patients aren’t using the ER for routine care

Judge extends halt to new abortion law in Mississippi

OxyContin abuse down with time-release formula


What you might have missed on Healthwatch

Sebelius urges states to accept health law’s Medicaid expansion

Obama administration to offer health coverage for part-time firefighters

House Dem mocks GOP's non-existent healthcare replacement bill

BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFrom learning on his feet to policy director Is Congress retrievable? Boehner reveals portrait done by George W. Bush MORE: Repeal vote ‘another chance’ for Senate to kill health law

Pelosi: GOP health politics 'be damned'


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Sam Baker: sbaker@thehill.com / 202-628-8351

Elise Viebeck: eviebeck@thehill.com / 202-628-8523

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